Dr. Cheryl Pence is the Clinical Director of the MISS Foundation at the Selah Carefarm near Sedona, Arizona. She joined the team in May 2021 to work with bereaved families and providers from around the world providing counseling sessions, therapeutic walks, time with the animals, guided meditations, yoga, art therapy, grief rituals, and more.
She leads the carefarm’s intensive individual and group programs, that bring together grievers from across the country to process their traumatic grief experiences.
Dr. Cheryl is also the project director and part-time research faculty at Western Kentucky University (2021-present). She was awarded a four-year $1.92 million federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Behavioral Health Workforce Education And Training Program (BHWET) to support counseling interns and mental health professionals in the community. She left a tenured associate professor position teaching in the WKU Department of Counseling and Student Affairs (2014-2021) to join the MISS Foundation. At WKU she taught graduate counseling courses, advised and supervised graduate counseling students, was the Clinical Coordinator for student internship placements, and served as the Program Co-Coordinator of the College and Career Readiness (CCR) Certificate. She earned her B.S. in Economics from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland; M.S. in Human Resource Management from Troy University; M.Ed. and Ed.S. in Mental Health Counseling, and Ph.D. in Counselor Education from the University of Florida.
Dr. Cheryl is a Licensed Professional Counselor and approved clinical supervisor in Arizona and Kentucky (LPCAZ, LPCC-SKY), National Certified Counselor (NCC), certified Compassionate Bereavement Care (CBC) provider, and maintains several other licenses and certifications including Certified Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), Professional in Human Resource Management (PHR), and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist (CCHt).
Her previous professional counseling experiences included working with terminally-ill patients and their families with Haven Hospice; counseling clients and survivors at accident scenes, hospitals, or their homes with the Alachua County Crisis Center; supervising counseling interns as the Co-Director of the Talley Family Counseling Center; and helping college students navigate their career development with the University of Florida Career Resource Center, and providing support to the staff and refugee clients at the International Center of Kentucky.
In her service to the counseling profession, Dr. Cheryl served on several national, regional, and local counseling association boards and committees. She served on the executive board and governing council of the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES 2020-2021) as treasurer and on several committees including financial investment, budget & finance, strategic planning, conference, and webmaster search. She also served on the executive board of the Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES 2015-2020) as treasurer, webmaster, conference committee member, and webinar task force member. She served Chi Sigma Iota, the international counseling academic and professional honor society, at the local and international levels, where she helped develop and publish the CSI nationally-endorsed counseling wellness competencies. She was also involved in the National Career Development Association (NCDA), Kentucky Counseling Association (KCA), and Florida Counseling Association (FCA).
Dr. Cheryl’s primary research interests include wellness and self-care, career meaning and development, and multicultural spirituality. She led several quantitative and qualitative studies, funded grants, presentations, and publications related to wellness and self-care, career meaning and satisfaction, college and career readiness, academic job negotiation, and needs of local refugees and the staff who serve them. She has given numerous scholarly presentations at state, regional, national, and international counseling association conferences including the American Counseling Association (ACA), Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), National Career Development Association (NCDA), Southern Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES) Kentucky Counseling Association (KCA), and others. In addition, she published national peer-reviewed journal articles, academic book chapters, and other refereed publications. Her research and involvement with the Bowling Green, Kentucky community helped her co-create the new CCR Certificate program that began Fall 2017 where she developed and taught the five courses that make up that program. You can view a list of her research, presentations, and publications separately. Within WKU, she served on additional college and university committees, dissertation and thesis committees.
Dr. Cheryl’s teaching and service have led to several awards including the WKU College of Education & Behavioral Sciences Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching (2019) and the Faculty Excellence Award for Public Service (2020). She also received the Southern Association of Counselor Education and Supervision (SACES) President’s Outstanding Service Award (2016), SACES Emerging Leaders Fellowship (2014), Chi Sigma Iota International (CSI) Leadership Fellowship (2010-2011), CSI Outstanding Service to Chapter Award (2010), and other college or community awards.
Before entering the counseling profession, Dr. Cheryl worked in human resources as an executive recruiter, serving as a consultant to city councils, boards of directors, and other high-level public officials on recruiting and selecting top executives for public-sector organizations. She also served as a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley, working with hundreds of clients and presenting workshops to individuals and large groups, helping them establish short and long-term financial goals that fit their values and lifestyle.
Dr. Cheryl’s early career began in the military; she is a U.S. Navy veteran with 11 years of military schooling and service. After an enlistment as an Electronics Technician (E-4), she was accepted to and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. She served as a Naval Surface Warfare Officer (O-3), leading divisions of 40-45 naval personnel onboard naval ships where she was responsible for the daily operations, training, and management of all personnel in her deck, electronics, and fire control divisions. In addition to her full-time division officer responsibilities, on the USS Essex (LHD-2), she served as the Educational Services Officer, maximizing the educational opportunities for over 1,200 crewmembers. On the USS Yorktown (CG-48), she also served as the Public Affairs Officer for the Navy’s first technologically-advanced “Smart Ship,” giving presentations and tours to high-level officials and large public groups. She also served as the first and only female crew member for 3 months before another female officer joined the crew. In her final assignment, she served as the naval surface warfare liaison in a joint military command, coordinating all maritime units in joint integrated exercises, and providing training to more than 150 participants. This led to a follow on government assignment analyzing the interactions during the integrated exercises.